Even the example of the Bush administration and the recent crop of Republicans hasn't changed that image all that much. Conservatives still dominate the news. This despite the obvious fact that the world-building visionaries, the dreamers who want to change everything, are on the right side of the aisle.
Nothing highlights both this attitude and the two parties differences more than the coverage of a feud between Democratic frontrunners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. We're shown this as evidence that the Democratic rivals represent a split in the philosophy of the party, not as evidence of the obvious -- that rivals in the primary races are opponents in a contest.
The high profile disagreement began simply enough. At the YouTube-sponsored Democratic debate, Barack Obama answered a question in a way that Hillary Clinton disagreed with. Asked if they would meet with the leaders of Venezuala, Syria, Iran, etc. in their first year in office, Obama said he would. Saying she wouldn't let herself become a propaganda tool, Clinton said she wouldn't.
Each thought they'd scored a legit point in the debate and both have since run with their opponent's answer. Clinton called Obama's answer 'naive' and Obama criticized Clinton's answer as being 'Bush/Cheney-lite.' Both are scoring press for their feud and neither shows any sign of letting up.
Meanwhile, let's see what the 'grown ups' are up to.
Right Wing Watch:
Sen. Sam Brownback got the ball rolling last week when he started running "robocalls" in Iowa questioning the pro-life credentials of Rep. Tom Tancredo and Gov. Mitt Romney. Tancredo was especially outraged that Brownback was targeting his campaign for accepting money from population-control zealot John Tanton, whose views the Brownback campaign characterized as "racist"...
It's hard to imagine that anyone who gives Tancredo money wouldn't be racist, but there ya go. Tancredo and Romney demanded Brownback apologize, Brownback refused, Tancredo attacked every other GOP candidate, they freak out, blah, blah, blah, wank, wank, wank.
Like I said, these are supposed to be the grown ups. While the GOPers fight over who's the most christian and who's the most racist (not necessarily a bad thing with some voters), the dems are arguing over foreign policy. In other words, the people the media would have you think are the dreamers are actually disagreeing on a substantive issue of global consequence, while the grown ups argue over trivial crap like children.
And that's why you don't hear a lot about these skirmishes on the right. They're idiotic and that doesn't fit the stereotype. And they're idiotic for a reason; because they're about what an idiot you are -- or, more accurately, what an idiot these guys think you are. You couldn't possibly understand global politics, much less have an opinion about them, so the Republican candidates talk to you like a moron. You couldn't possibly understand Darfur, so you get candidates trying to posture as the most 'pro-life.' You're too stupid to get economic policy, so instead you get an argument over which candidate's the most like Ronald Reagan. It's all public relations BS, as meaningful as a saturday morning commercial for bubble gum, and it's that way because they believe you're a freakin' moron.
That's why Giuliani performs such rhetorical acrobatics to put every damned question in the light of 9/11. That's why John McCain wanders through Baghdad with a cloud of helicopters overhead. That's why Mitt Romney thought he had to go out of his way to say that sex offenders are bad people. Because soundbites and photo ops and scary stories are all they think you're capable of understanding.
Whether Clinton or Obama is right in their argument is almost irrelevant. Clinton has a point; you can't just go globetrotting around starting talks with whoever just to have talks. That doesn't really serve any purpose and it'd be time consuming. On the other hand, Obama also has a point; that considering talking to the US to be a privilege and not talking to be a punishment is a mistake the Bush administration too often makes. For the purpose of this post, it's the fact that the argument exists at all that's significant. While there's a certain amount of dishonesty in both sides' characterization of the other's argument, Obama and Clinton expect you to be able to follow their reasoning. The right expects you to have a pavlovian response to buzzwords. Republican campaigns have a near total lack of substance.
If the Republican party plans to make any gains coming out of the primaries, they're going to actually have to stand for something. The debate about the future of Iraq, for example, is happening almost entirely on the left. The right won't talk about it -- other than to push BS about who's tougher on terrorists.
We've got problems we need to tackle and, despite what the marketing department of the Republican Party thinks, we understand what they are. Not only that, but we have opinions on them. If you check polling on national priorities, the War in Iraq is top (27%), followed by health care (9%) and the economy (8%) in open-ended surveys (i.e., polls that aren't multiple choice). Not on the list is whether Tom Tancredo's pro-life enough, whether anyone's not enough like Reagan, or that no one says the number '9/11' enough.
If these are the grown ups, then why are they talking to us like children?
Technorati tags: politics; Hillary Clinton; Barack Obama; Sam Brownback; Tom Tancredo; Mitt Romney; Rudy Giuliana; John McCain; Democrat; The big question in the 2008 elections is why Republicans think you're a freakin' idiot